Cardiff’s Queen Street has been home to many an enduring legend. But how many of these do you remember?
Toy Mic Trev
Cardiff’s public soon took Toy Mic Trevor to their hearts when he appeared in a doorway outside Boots in the late 1990s.
Wooing the crowd with his own unique versions of Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Tom Jones and Elvis, Trev would belt out all the hits into his toy microphone. Often looking more bemused than his onlookers, Trev became a true Cardiff legend, even spawning his own fan website. He even sang the opening song to one of Cardiff’s music festivals one year.
Sadly, Queen Street has never been the same since he packed up his toy microphone and headed off into the sunset. Pretenders have come and gone but no-one has ever topped the singing legend that was Toy Mic Trev.
Shaky Hand Man
He would catch you out when you thought you were safe. Maybe you were enjoying a coffee. Maybe you were waiting for a friend. But he’d always get you. First time round, you’d think that he was just being nice.
“Hello. Pleased to meet you.” He’d hold out the hand of friendship. Then he’d ask you for some money.
You couldn’t say no. And he’d do it again and again and again, all over the town, probably making millions of pounds as he did. Sadly, he is no longer with us. No-one knows how much money he made, but he enriched everyone who shook his hand. Cardiff will never forget Shaky Hand Man.
Ian, as he was known to his friends and family, would take up position just outside St David’s Centre on Queen Street and gently tease the passers-by with strange and surreal questions.
He’d often mumble questions, so that no-one could quite hear. But this was all the work of a sales genius. Expecting to be asked if they had breakdown cover, passers-by would stop to ask what he’d just said. Like a master angler, he’d reel them in and once they were in his doorway, they wouldn’t leave without joining the RAC, whether they were already in it or not.
The story goes that the RAC Man was actually sacked once for earning too much money. He worked for the AA for a while, but the RAC soon noticed the drop in new RAC members and called him back. He was such a good salesman, that he’d often sell items on nearby jewellery and mobile phone cover stands to help out the local traders. RAC man would work seven days a week, and once he’d finished on Queen Street, he’d pack up and head to the nearest Tesco where he’d work until 9 or 10pm.
Casio Keyboard Man in Wheelchair
God knows where he came from or where he went to. But Casio Keyboard Man in Wheelchair had one aim when he hit Cardiff Queen Street. Annoy the shit out of everyone so much that they’d chuck money in his hat to get him out of town. His helper would wheel him into position. He’d lay a blanket over his legs and then he’d fire up his 1980s Casio keyboard. What followed sounded like….well…it’s hard to describe. Songs would start halfway through. He’d change songs (not that you’d notice) halfway through. He’d finish songs when he’d had enough of them. Timing was not a consideration and he’d often hit the ‘Demo’ button at irregular intervals for no apparent reason.
Casio Keyboard Man in Wheelchair was often spotted further afield (he was once spotted ‘playing’ in Gloucester city centre) and was often moved on by police.
Ninjah is one of Cardiff’s true modern-day heroes. If you see a tall man with dreads looking out of place, it might be Ninjah. If he’s dressed up in full combat gear, with a gas mask on, carrying a ghetto blaster on his shoulder, it’s probably Ninjah. If you see someone playing one of the bins with drumsticks, it’ll definitely Ninjah.
He’s often spotted running around Cardiff and has been known to save several females from serious attack in and around the city centre. So the story goes.